Archive for June, 2011


Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mena'.


  • (n.) scallop

Ka hava ei iu mena kipe.
“I had scallops yesterday.”

Notes: Among other things. Since I’d just been talking about it, I had some cioppino yesterday for dinner. It was exquisite, but I simply can’t eat the way I used to be able to… :( I brought home a lot of it as leftovers. It was quite good, though! Scallops are easily one of my favorites.

The iku is a rendering of the famous scallop shell (perhaps the most visually salient of seashells). The reason it has no top is because this iku, in fact, is a modification of another iku, which…I haven’t done yet. :lol:

You’d think after more than a year I would have finally done an entry on every glyph in the Kamakawi writing system. Looking at the numbers, though, I think I’m about…halfway done? I think there are about 600 distinct glyphs. I’m getting there!

coat is tabeki

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
tabekitabeki = coat (noun) (some things Google found for "tabeki": an uncommon to rare term; a child day care company in Germany; user names; Tabeki Computers Services in Nigeria; a rare last name; name of a teen male character in anime Yoshinaga-san Chi no Gargoyle)

Word derivation for "coat (jacket)":
Basque = beroki, Finnish = takki
Miresua = tabeki

Both the Basque word and Finnish word end in KI, so I made the Miresua word do that too.


Thursday, June 30th, 2011



Moons are generally visible at night, and this word refers to the time of night between sunset and midnight.

la jānnaxel jālne cī;
Have a good evening.

The phrase il jānnaxel (and sometimes il ānnaxel) means in or during the evening.


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011



antēña refers to something thin, long, and/or narrow. So jaxōññāoni jalōnni jatēñi is “thin veins of gold” as might appear in marble. It also refers to the sixth or last phase of the moon, the thin sliver or crescent before a new moon. I still do not know how many moons I have, but at least I have words for the phases. :-)


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'inivieke'.


  • (v.) to be wonderful, excellent, superlative (etc.)
  • (adj.) wonderful, excellent, marvelous
  • (n.) excellence

Awela i ia ti no ulili inivieke!
“Thank you for three wonderful years!”

Notes: Today is my and Erin’s three year anniversary. We haven’t had the easiest time since grad. school (in life; not with each other), but it’s all been worth it since we’ve gotten to spend that time together. I couldn’t even conceive of anyone better to spend the rest of my life with. :)

High Eolic word of the day: cellú

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

cellú (noun): teacher, instructor.

yat ca-cellú-vándecut ngúya ceretirces
then my-teacher-letter.BEN.DEF COP.IMPERF very.old.ESS
“my writing teacher was very old”

Ceci n’est pas un mot

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In my introductory posting to this website I wrote, “Another new thing I’ve included is a blog category on ‘Grammar musings.’ […] [They] will hopefully give you some insight into the process that is behind conlanging.” Here is one such insight, and a very basic one at that.

The other day I remembered an episode from when my dad learned – fascinatedly – that I’m doing this language inventing stuff. He asked me first, what e.g. the word for ‘house’ is (nanga) and then, why it’s not something different. The same question also comes up in the forums every now and then. I promise not to confuse you with talk about signifiers and signifieds now, but you may want to read up on Ferdinand de Saussure and the arbitrariness of signs and Jacques Derida’s différance sometime, if you’re not familiar with those theories yet. They’re likely one of the first things to deal with in LING 101.1

Case 1: Make up a word from scratch

As I found out in an analysis of my dictionary that I did last year, Ayeri has a number of contraints that restrict words considerably. Some of them arose purposefully, others accidentally. Based on this analysis I programmed a script to make up words for me. However, this does not mean I simply take those generated words and fully randomly assign a meaning to them. Technology and statistics aside, I have an idea in my mind about how the language should sound like and all analysis was done in retrospect. In fact, I often only take my list as a way to help me finding a suitable word if I can’t think of one offhand. For example, right now I still need a word for ‘poison’ and don’t feel like duplicating German Gift, lit. ‘something given’ (with some semantic drift …). Using my list for inspiration, I find that I somehow like mikam. There is no word that begins with mik- in the dictionary yet, so I don’t need to tweak it further. But how and why? Why not kotas or desay? Alas, I don’t know! Incidentally, I think kotas has something piercing that fits ‘thorn’ (k-t-s sounds hard and pricky) and desay sounds like it could best be an adjective, by analogy with other adjectives in -ay (atay, dakay, gibay, kebay, …). Now please show me a brain scan, Mr Neurologist!

Case 2a: Extend an existing word’s meaning

This is something I find myself doing a lot, because it’s boring to have 1:1 equivalents to German-English-French words. As an example, take sihiru- ‘to translate’. I wanted to translate ‘to adopt’ the other day and was thinking about whether to make a new word, or to reuse an old one. I decided for the latter strategy and after a little brainstorming I thought that translating is also a way to ‘adopt’ a text from another language to one’s own, thus another possible meaning of sihiru- could be ‘adopt’.

Another example is pray ‘smooth’. When I made that word for Conlang Relay 18, I had to make it up from scratch. I also used it when I needed a word for ‘even number’. ‘Smooth’ and ‘even’ seem to be very English-y by being synonyms, but ‘odd number’ does not re-use the Ayeri word with the same meaning. Instead, I chose baras ‘rough’ for consistency.

Case 2b: Extend an existing word’s meaning by changing its noun class

Ayeri distinguishes two noun classes, namely animate and inanimate. Sometimes it’s neat to add a meaning to a word not simply by extending it, but by also by changing its noun class. One such example is the word for ‘navel’, terpeng. This word existed previously as the inanimate terpeng ‘middle’. However, body parts are animate neuter in Ayeri, since they are things that are associated with living entities, thus asking for a category switch. A change in animacy can thus be used to derive a new meaning, whether motivated by grammatical constraints or freely.

Case 3: Derivation from existing words

Take the word minjisān ‘candidate, electee’ for example. I used it in a previous posting and commented on how unwieldy I found it. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at how I made it. First of all, I needed a word that means ‘candidate’. A candidate in this case was someone who is set up as an electable person. Someone to choose, one could say. Searching my dictionary for possible words to derive this from, I found mindoy- ‘to choose’ and mindoyam ‘choice, option’. Since the choosing is applied to someone, I added the causative suffix -isa to the verb, which is a valid way to derive a non-noun with a resumptive meaning – English would make that ‘chosen’ as an adjective. This results in mindoyisa, which then got nominalized to mindoyisān. Since that’s a mouthful at four syllables, I applied reduction and got minjisān.

Case 4: Nick etymologies, but reasonably so

So you have a word, say, ‘bunch’. A ‘bunch’ in English can refer to a number of things, but let us focus on this meaning:

A collection or cluster of things of the same kind, either growing together (as a bunch of grapes), or fastened closely together in any way (as a bunch of flowers, a bunch of keys) (OED, “Bunch.”)

I suspected that ‘bunch’ is maybe somehow related to ‘bind’, as it’s the case in German:

Bund […] ist eine Bildung zu dem unter binden behandelten Verb und bedeutet eigentlich “Bindendes, Gebundenes”.2 (Duden Herkunftswörterbuch, “Bund.”)

Upon further investigation, though, I found out that it is of unknown origin and possibly onomatopoeic (cf. OED, “Bunch.”). But anyway, the German etymology doesn’t seem unreasonable for other languages to come up with independently, so let’s simply look whether there’s a word for ‘to bind’ already. And indeed, there is: disy-. Thus, applying regular nominalization, the word for ‘bunch’ in the meaning above is disyan. And it is probably best categorized as inanimate, since it does neither refer to a living thing, nor would I associate it with one off the top of my head (food is inanimate). There should also be a possibility to pluralize it.

“Bunch.” Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OUP, 2011. Web. 28 Jun. 2011.
“Bund.” Duden Herkunftswörterbuch. Etymologie der deutschen Sprache. 3rd ed. 2001. Print.
  1. Even in my Introduction to Literary Studies class it was!
  2. Bund ‘bundle’ (…) is a formation belonging to the verb discussed under binden ‘to bind’ and in fact means ‘binding thing, bound thing.’”


Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'o'opo'.


  • (n.) coconut

Kawa ia i ipe o’opo e neviki i’i!
“Split that coconut and share it with me!”

Notes: Kind of on a food kick right now, and one of my favorites is coconut. Crucially, though, I only like fresh coconut; absolutely cannot stand dried coconut. Anyone else like this? Or anyone feel the opposite way? I tell you, to me it seems sometimes like the two don’t come from the same fruit…

The iku for o’opo is an old one, which is why the box is used rather than the circle used in later iku. Any guesses why the triangle is there, though? (See the various number entries for a hint [if that didn't give it away already].)


Tuesday, June 28th, 2011



antēwre means thick or fat, and so is the appropriate word for the fourth phase of a moon, the full moon.

The fifth phase of the moon is antēta, which also means “old” as in useless. The fifth phase goes from a waning gibbous moon to the last quarter.

Aggregator Errors

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Hey everyone,

For whatever reason, the Aggregator is not functioning as it should. Not all posts whose feeds are syndicated by the Aggregator are being caught, and, consequently, only certain blogs are getting updated. Even when I manually update the feed for a given blog, it doesn’t get all the current posts. If anyone has any experience with the WordPress plugin FeedWordPress or with WordPress plugins in general and wants to help, please e-mail me at lcs at conlang dot org.


-David Peterson